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Surfing in Baler: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you a beginner surfer looking for tips on surfing in Baler, Aurora?

This guide is for you!

I’m Mel, a British-Filipino travel blogger who loves doing a surfing weekend escape to Baler from Manila.

With amazing surf culture, chill beach vibes, great coffee and grub, and friendly locals, this little gem on the northeastern coast of Luzon island in the Philippines has stolen my heart.

Surfers on the waves at sunset in Baler, Aurora, Philippines - Beginner Surfer Guide to Baler

Surfers on the waves at sunset in Baler, Aurora, Philippines

Baler: The Birthplace of Philippine Surf Culture

Baler, known as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines, has beaches for every kind of surfer’s dream.

You’ve got gentle waves at Sabang Beach and gnarly breaks at Lindy’s Point, attracting surfers from all over the world.

Having experienced Baler’s surfing scene firsthand, I’m stoked to share my insights and tips so you can make the most out of surfing in Baler.

If you’re not a surfer but you’re keen to explore Baler, here’s my Insider’s Guide to Baler: 14+ Epic Things To Do In Baler, Aurora

Beachfront gardens at Costa Pacifica. Dreamy!

Beachfront gardens at Costa Pacifica Resort on the beachfront in Baler. Dreamy!

Where Is Baler, Aurora?

Baler, situated on the sunny east coast of Luzon, is nestled in the province of Aurora.

It’s a 5-6 hour drive northeast from Metro Manila.

If you have time to spare on mainland Luzon and a craving for some wave-catching, I highly recommend a few days in Baler.

Check out: 5 Best Weekend Escapes Near Manila – A Travel Guide

Beautiful sunrise over Costa Pacifica Resort in Baler, Aurora, Philippines - Best things to do in Baler Aurora, a travel guide - illumelation.com

Beautiful sunrise over Costa Pacifica Resort in Baler, Aurora

Best Hotels For Surfers In Baler, Aurora

What’s The Best Place To Stay In Baler for Surfers?

Costa Pacifica Baler (Luxe Option)

This high-end resort is perfect for surfers who want a bit of luxury during their stay in Baler. It’s right on Sabang Beach, so you can easily hit the surf early in the morning. Costa Pacificamy favourite resort in Baler, is right on the seafront by the waves. It’s a beautiful hotel and they have a surf section inside their gift shop. Check out my review here.

Circle Hostel Baler (Budget Option)

Circle Hostel Baler is a popular choice, especially for budget-conscious backpackers. It’s a colourful, eco-friendly hostel known for its communal atmosphere, making it a great place to meet fellow surfers. They too offer surfboard rentals and surf lessons. If on a budget, or wanting to socialise while you’re in Baler, Circle Hostel is community-led, cheerful, and reliable.

North Shore Surf Camp Baler (Surf-Centered)

One noteworthy spot is North Shore Surf Camp Baler, particularly popular among surfers. This quirky, surfer-friendly camp offers affordable huts and is located just a stone’s throw away from Sabang Beach. They also provide surfboard rentals and surfing lessons if you need them.

Circle Hostel - cheap, cheerful. Best to avoid if you can't stand Instagram quotes or drunk teens.

Circle Hostel in Baler – cheap, cheerful, clean, full of Instagram quotes and merry teens

Aliya Surf Camp (Boutique Option)

Aliya Surf Camp is a popular beachfront hotel, with a clean pool, prime location, decent food, a grassy knoll to park your board, and a little surf shop selling all kinds of equipment and zinc. It could do with an update but it’s cute.

Nalu Surf Camp (Party Option)

Offering neat, nipa-hut style rooms, this place is perfect for those who want to be close to the surf and enjoy a chill, beachy vibe. It’s got great reviews – but music does thump ’til the early hours, so it’s best to stay here if you like a night out!

Bay’s Inn Resort (Mid-Range Option)

This resort offers clean, comfortable rooms and a restaurant with a view of the surf. There’s an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a restaurant and a bar with a seafront view.

Filipino surfer, Mike, strolls towards Cemento Reef with his shortboard in Baler, Aurora

Filipino surfer, Mike, strolls towards Cemento Reef with his shortboard in Baler, Aurora

Best Time to Surf in Baler

When Is Surf Season in Baler?

If you’re into surfing, Baler’s got you covered all year round with its friendly waves. But the best time to catch those waves depends on your skill level and the kind of experience you’re looking for.

For beginners who want to learn the ropes, the summer months from April to June offer smaller and more manageable waves. Plus, the weather during this time is fantastic with clear skies and warmer water temperatures.

But if you’re an intermediate or pro surfer, you might prefer the bigger swells that come with the monsoon season from October to February. These months bring robust and challenging waves, perfect for honing your skills or getting that adrenaline rush.

In terms of crowds, Baler sees the most tourists during the dry season from November to April. If you’re after a quieter experience, consider visiting during the off-peak months. But no matter when you go, Baler’s surf culture is friendly all year around. So, anytime is a good time to surf in Baler!

Young Filipino Local Boy Watches the waves in Baler, Aurora, Philippines - Best things to do in Baler Aurora, a travel guide - illumelation.com

Young Filipino local surfer boy watching the waves in Cemento Reef, Baler

Where To Take Surfing Lessons in Baler

There are plenty of surf schools in Baler. Most of the action is centered around Sabang Beach, where you’ll find instructors for surf lessons for any skill level.

I’d recommend heading to the beach and spontaneously going with the school or instructor that takes your fancy.

If you’d like to do a set series of surf lessons, definitely check out Aliya Surf Camp.

Aliya Surf Camp is regarded as the go-to spot for surf lessons in Baler. Right on Sabang Beach, they not only offer surf lessons for beginners to pros, but also host fun community competitions related to surfing, like long-boarding and skateboarding.

Surfers riding waves in Cemento Reef, Baler

Surfers riding waves in Cemento Reef, Baler

What Is It Like Surfing in Baler?

Beginner surfers can take comfort in the gentle waves at Sabang Beach, perfect for learning the basics without too much of a challenge.

Intermediate surfers can venture out to Cemento Beach, known for its stronger current and bigger waves – a chance to test your skills and up your game.

For seasoned surfers, the famed Charlie’s Point offers a thrilling ride with higher waves – where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tibag-Sabang River, creating a unique point break known for its incredible swells.

Two cute local teens (still smiling, even though their boards got ripped in half. Oops!)

Two cute local teens (still smiling, even though their boards got ripped in half. Oops!)

The local surf scene is friendly, welcoming, and ready to lend a hand or share a tip.

So, whether you’re a pro or just starting out, Baler’s surf has something for everyone.

And the best part? The waves are great all year round! So you can grab your surfboard whenever the mood strikes.

Golden sunrise in Baler, sweet birthplace of Philippine surf.

Golden sunrise in Baler, sweet birthplace of Philippine surf

Most Popular Surf Spots in Baler

What Are The Best Spots For Surfing in Baler?

Cemento Beach (Cemento Reef / Cobra Reef)

Near an old cement pier, a short paddle away from a large rock, is a strong, right-hand reef break offer excellent quality right breakwaves. Known as Cemento Reef or Cobra Reef, this is the best place to find the largest, cleanest, good quality waves in Baler.

This is where local surf competitions and the Annual Aurora Surfing Cup are held, frequented by Aussie, Japanese and European surfers in Aurora. Perfect for experienced surfers. Reef shoes 100% recommended if you don’t want to have bleeding, broken feet for the next two weeks.

Charlie’s Point

North of Sabang Beach, a short walking distance from Baler town, Charlie’s Point is the famed beach seen in the film, Apocalypse Now. Depending on the swell, medium-quality waves can break both right and left on a sand and gravel bottom. Great for surfers of all experience levels. Waves best in December to January.

Lindy’s Point

Further north of Charlie’s Point, around 15 minutes walking distance from Bay’s Inn, Lindy’s Point is a relatively new discovery. The tall breaks were “accidentally” created by the local government when engineers opened the mouth of Baler Bay to the river as a flood prevention mechanism during rainy season. Tall, strong, sharp breakwaves are formed by the river and Pacific waters clashing, giving surfers unequivocal stoke. Newbies, steer clear.

Waves in the sea at Cemento Reef in Baler

Small waves in the sea at Cemento Reef in Baler

Sabang Beach

This is probably the most popular place to catch a wave when in season, October to February. Best for beginners and novices, providing small to medium size waves (unless typhoon season), breaking left and right on sand. Saying that, more experienced surfers have a blast here when swells get bigger. Glassy lefts and rights can be caught early in the morning, with locals carving from as early as 5am. Sometimes mushy, always fun. Great spot for getting back into the swing of surfing, if you need practice.

Secret Spot

Although it’s a bit of a trek to reach, Secret Spot is well worth the effort. Situated north of Baler town, this secluded beach offers impressive breaks, especially during the peak season between October and February. It’s not as frequented as other surfing spots, which makes it an ideal place for surfers looking for less crowded waves.

Diguisit Beach

Diguisit Beach is a paradise for experienced surfers. Located near Baler, it’s renowned for its strong, high waves and beautiful rocky backdrop. The beach isn’t just for surfers; its dramatic beauty makes it a favourite spot for photographers and nature lovers alike.

Concrete studs at Cemento Beach in Baler

Concrete studs at Cemento Beach in Baler

Baler’s Surf Culture In A Nutshell:

Surf Consistency:

Surf is pretty consistent all year round. Dry season runs from November to May. The best waves are brought in by the north swell from October until April. Waves hit peak size and quality between December and January.

Beginner-Friendly Surfing:

Newbies, have no fear. Surf schools and board rentals abound. The locals are friendly too. There are plenty of tutors ready to help you out.

Crowds in Baler:

Crowds are never an issue, although Sabang Beach gets busy on weekends with learners. Line-ups are regular. You may get schooled by an 8-year-old local on a beaten-up shortboard..

Costs of a Surf Trip to Baler:

Compared to other surf spots, Baler is definitely budget-friendly. You can find cheap accommodations and affordable meals all year round, which is great if you’re backpacking.

Brunette girl in bikini by the ocean, spotting waves at Cemento Reef, Baler

My friend Roxy by the ocean, spotting waves at Cemento Reef, Baler

What Are The Locals Like When Surfing In Baler?

Locals in Baler are pretty chill. If you mess up on a couple of waves, they’ll throw you some helpful advice (and probably also laugh at you a little bit. All good fun.) If you’ve brought a shortboard and fancy a go on a log, and you’ve made friends with someone local on the line-up, see if they’ll switch with you for a few hours. They might be more than happy to play around on a new board.

A friend's friend stacking surfboards on top of his SUV in Baler

A friend’s friend stacking surfboards on top of his SUV in Baler

Surfing In Baler: How to Get Around Baler

Exploring Baler is an exciting adventure! You have a variety of transportation options to choose from:

  • For an authentic experience, embrace the Pinoy culture and ride a tricycle. It’s a fun and affordable way to zip around town, with fares starting at around PHP 10 for short trips. Tricycles can accommodate up to 4 people, but it might be a bit cosy!
  • If you prefer a more leisurely exploration, renting a bicycle is the perfect choice. It’s eco-friendly and gives you the freedom to go at your own pace. Rental prices usually range from PHP 200-300 per day.
  • If you crave a bit more speed, consider renting a scooter or motorbike. This option allows you to cover longer distances, but remember to stay cautious as the roads can be busy. Rentals typically cost around PHP 800 per day, excluding petrol.
  • And if you’re seeking coastal adventures, hiring a boat is your best bet. Although it may be slightly more expensive, starting at around PHP 800, it’s absolutely worth it for the breathtaking views and access to hidden surf spots.

Travel responsibly and respect the local rules!

Peanut butter and salted caramel iced lattes from Groundswell Baler.

Peanut butter and salted caramel iced lattes from Groundswell Baler

Things To Do In Baler Apart from Surfing

Surfing in Baler is about more than just the waves and weather: there’s a rad culture and community that surrounds it. The locals here are always down to share a wave or a smile.

And besides the surfing scene, there are some pretty cool things to do in Baler that you shouldn’t miss out on.

When you’re not shredding the waves, Baler has a ton more to offer. There are historical sites like the Museo de Baler and the Quezon Memorial Park, or breathtaking natural landscapes like the Ditumabo Mother Falls and the Millennium Tree.

Fish tacos and tortilla chips at Costa Pacifica Resort Baler

Fish tacos and tortilla chips at Costa Pacifica Resort Baler

Don’t forget about Baler’s food culture either! Baler has loads of local eateries where you can grub on Filipino favourites and international dishes.

After a gnarly day of surfing, treat yourself to a hearty Baler breakfast bowl or a plate of hot, fresh lumpia.

Here’s my guide: Insider’s Guide to Baler: 14+ Epic Things To Do In Baler, Aurora

Best Local Food To Try in Baler

Iced buko (coconut) shake from Costa Pacifica.

Iced buko (coconut) shake from Costa Pacifica Resort in Baler

Local Delicacies You Need To Try In Baler

  • Something I learned when I was in Baler is that Baler isn’t just about the surf: it’s also a foodie’s paradise. One bite of Nanay Pacing Peanut Butter and your taste buds are in for a treat. This homemade peanut butter, lovingly crafted by a local lady named Nanay Pacing, blends peanuts, sugar, and a sprinkling of salt (not to forget a dash of joy!). Pair it with Skyflakes after your surf, and you’ll feel your muscles sing. Grab a jar to take home, unless you’re nut-allergic, in which case, their coconut jam is a delightful alternative.
  • But don’t stop there! You can’t leave Baler without trying the famous Suman de Baler. This treat, made from organic black rice and coconut milk, is a health-conscious foodie’s dream. Wrapped in coconut leaves, this local delight is high in fibre, dairy-free (perfect for sensitive stomachs!) and gluten-free (live healthy, live happy!).
  • And just before you say goodbye to this amazing town, make sure to titillate your taste buds with Longganisa de Baler. This local sausage, laced with garlic, will make an unforgettable mark on your culinary journey. Why not take a pack back to the city with you, to keep the Baler experience alive just a little bit longer?
Clear, glassy 'peelers' (small waves) breaking in Cemento Reef, Baler - best things to do in Baler Aurora guide

Clear, glassy ‘peelers’ (small waves) breaking in Cemento Reef, Baler

Should you go surfing in Baler?

Every ride on Baler’s waves helped me fully breathe and switch off away from Manila.

I remember the time I caught my first wave here during a longboard lesson – it felt like I was flying, on top of the world. From that moment, Baler had me hooked.

If you’re based in Manila or anywhere nearby, I highly recommend you take a surf trip to Baler, even for a weekend.

Check out my Insider’s Guide to Baler: 14+ Epic Things To Do In Baler, Aurora

Where are you headed next in The Philippines?

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.